On the hill: Oops – forgot the ski boots | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Oops – forgot the ski boots

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – For the first time, I hiked up a snowy mountain in my everyday shoes. I didn’t intend to do so, but it was better than just giving up and going to work.

Every Tuesday, a buddy and I skin up Tiehack at Buttermilk and ski down. It’s a winter tradition and exercise routine that goes back 12 or more years, so it’s nearly automatic the way I gather up my gear each Monday night and leave it by the door, ready for that predawn departure. Boots, poles, pack, skis (with skins), a change of clothes for work, etc.

All this stuff was there by the door on Tuesday morning, but the boots for some reason never left the house. Of course, I didn’t realize this until we were a few hundred yards from the Tiehack parking lot.

After a minute or so of verbal self-abuse, I decided the exercise of going up the mountain was more important than the mode of transportation. In other words, to hell with it – I’ll walk up in my shoes.

Fortunately, my winter shoes are leather boots with a sturdy rubber sole – Blundstones, to be exact. They’re not exactly designed for hiking Rocky Mountain corduroy, but they did amazingly well. Feeling light on my feet and using my poles for stability, I hustled to Tiehack’s upper ridge for the view up Maroon Creek Valley, back-sliding only a few times on the steeper sections of Sterner.

I turned around there, wanting to put some distance between myself and my buddy on skis, who continued to the top of the Upper Tiehack chair and would descend in a fraction of the time it took me.

My trip down was fine, although I had to seek out softer snow where my boot heels would pierce the hardpack and not slide. Of course, if the snow was too soft I tended to punch through, leaving boot-shaped postholes and filling my Blundstones with snow.

This tended to place me on the margins of runs, just outside the snowcat tracks but not in the woods. Smooth and fast it wasn’t, but it was fun.

Not like ripping early morning GS turns down the corduroy, but far better than giving up and going to work.


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